Garden City keeps moving forward

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Mayor Troy Unruh gives the "State of the City" address Wednesday morning at the Clarion Inn Convention Center during a monthly Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

2020 was nothing like anyone imagined it would be due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it didn’t stop life from continuing in Garden City.

This was the takeaway from Garden City Mayor Troy Unruh’s State of the City Address at the October Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast Wednesday.

Unruh said 2020 was not the year anyone expected and was full of uncertainty, but it did teach that “we are better together when we work together.”

The city pulled together with the Finney County Commission and the Finney County Health Department and they were able to work together to keep everything running, allowing the city to complete projects and begin new ones, Unruh said.

Some of the things the city accomplished this year include:

• The completion of the city’s first sales tax project, improvements to Lee Richardson Zoo with the new primate forest, flamingo habitat and expansion of the animal health facility.

• The 2020 census, in which preparation for it began in 2019.

• The purchase of a building to house the Municipal Court and Garden City Police Department evidence. The building will soon undergo a remodel to fit both departments.

• A pay study was conducted for the city to look at how well employees are being compensated at a level commensurate with their skills and longevity.

• Improvements to the Public Works Department, including a Wastewater Utility Improvement project.

• Improvements to Buffalo Dunes Golf Course, including converting several acres of irrigated blue grass turf to non-irrigated native turf, which will save a lot of money. All of the sod from the grass was reused at Valley View Cemetery and Lee Richardson Zoo.

• A farewell celebration was held for the Big Pool.

Unruh said the city also stepped up to the plate to help residents affected by COVID-19.

One way they did this was through a one-time credit to utility bills for Garden City Electric customers totaling over $711,000.

Additionally the city expended over $447,000 to small businesses via the Community Development Block Grant Revolving Loan Fund, Unruh said.

“Sixteen businesses received the CDBG funds from the city of Garden City,” he said. “But this would not have happened without the partnership of the Finney County Economic Development Corporation helping the city administer the program.”

In the coming year, the city will begin several projects, Unruh said. All are looking toward the future of the community.

Two are road projects, the Jennie Barker Road Project and the 8th Street Project.

The Jennie Barker project is a sales tax project that seeks to improve the safety and usability of the road and to accommodate future economic development and the 8th Street Project, which includes a streetscape improvements and replacement of the road.

Other projects include:

• Construction of a new Garden City Regional Airport Terminal.

• Garden Rapids at The Big Pool, a new aquatics facility that will include a 10-lane competition pool, lazy river, fly high slides, SlipStream Stand-Up slide, zero-depth entry pool, plus a large play structure.

• The new Emperical Foods Inc. ground beef facility. It will employ about 300 employees once complete.